Graduate Bulletin

Spring 2018

Program Concentrations:

Behavioral and Community Health (BCH)

The BCH concentration is uniquely crafted to train students in leadership and community-based participation, in the domains of healthcare and health policy. This program is designed to meet the aspirations of students seeking to create change in the intersection of healthcare, policy, and the social experience. Fundamentally participatory in nature, this PhD track expects students not only to become proficient in research and theory, but also to acquire the tools and experience to apply theory to practice. This program establishes the necessary intellectual framework to understand community-based leadership, and then provides the opportunities to exercise it, professionally and personally. The BCH track and is designed for social scientists, behavioral scientists, community health researchers, clinicians, community organizers, and health policy specialists. This track will develop proficiency in various research methods, both qualitative and quantitative in nature. Particular emphasis will be given to translating theory to practice and understanding the applied nature of policy measures. The BCH track will provide students with proficiency in policy evaluation, community intervention, leadership development, community engagement, and community-based participatory research. Students in the BCH track will understand the intersection of health, policy, and society, and the shared relationship among them. In the shifting healthcare environment, attention will be given to marginalized groups, like immigrants, those of racial minority, those with disability, those of lower socioeconomic status, and others. It is expected that graduates of the BCH track will be trained to be experts in community leadership, policy analysis, grass roots mobilization, and community health.

Disability Studies (DS)

The DS concentration focuses on multiple social and environmental factors that influence the experience of chronic conditions and functional impairments. These factors range from architectural barriers to social discrimination and have a profound influence on access to education, employment, recreation, and participation in other community activities across the life cycle. Disability Studies draws from philosophy, history, anthropology, sociology, law, political sciences, economics, occupational sciences, bioethics, and many other fields. The goal of this concentration is to train researchers from clinical and non-clinical backgrounds to use quantitative, qualitative and community participatory methodologies to operationalize critical theories and focus on the practical and policy implications of disability with the intent of improving quality of life and community access to health services for the disabled. In addition to a critical consideration of ICF conceptualizations of health, activity, and participation, the DS concentration will: (1) examine the role of power, social identity, and status as related to disability (2) consider the role of social and regional inequalities, and (3) assess desired changes at the organizational, community, national, and international levels that might positively affect the disabled.

Only two Ph.D. programs in Disability Studies exist nationally. Neither program is embedded in a Health and Rehabilitation Sciences Ph.D program, but the connections strengthen this program of study. Additionally, a growing number of DS programs are currently being developed. Graduating students from this Ph.D. program will find employment in academic departments, public policy and administrative positions, with nongovernmental organizations and in rehabilitation centers engaged in research.

Rehabilitation and Movement Sciences (RMS)

The concentration aims to train rehabilitation research clinicians and scientists who will focus on the understanding of movement control through multiple types of measurement. This concentration will examine body function/structure and activity in the able-bodied and in people with movement impairments to potentially enhance physical and psychosocial functioning. Additionally, research will focus on increasing participation among the functionally impaired, thereby impacting the quality of life of people with disabilities. This pursuit of scientific inquiry for RMS crosses all levels of the ICF model. Special emphasis will be placed on the measurement of movement, including kinematics (position), kinetics (forces and moments) and EMG (muscle activity); muscle physiology and function (muscle physiological cross-sectional area), and energetics (metabolic and mechanical). These body and structure measurements will be studied around the neuro-musculoskeletal basis of movement, given central nervous system mechanisms and the neurophysiology and neuroscience mechanisms underlying movement disorders. The RMS concentration will be supported by theories of motor control, motor learning, and biomechanics. Areas of study may include balance and vestibular-ocular disorders; athletic performance; diabetes and wound healing physiology; body composition and obesity; physical interventions for cancer, and movement deficits in other disorders such as Parkinson’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Huntington’s Disease, stroke and spinal cord injury. The RMS concentration uses quantitative methods in the measurement of body structure and function such as what is available in the Rehabilitation Research and Movement Performance Lab. In addition, students may experience studies in the Locomotion Learning Lab and the Shah Spinal Cord Injury Basic Science Lab. Students will also be required to relate these measurements to functional activities and societal participation and learn how these discoveries can not only improve clinical practice, but also inform health policy.